Sunday, January 23, 2011


I was a pallbearer at my Grandmother's funeral this weekend. The director had to chase me down to attach my boutineer, because I was also involved in audio, video and music. There are many details in putting together any church service, and I usually have my fingers in most of them. It keeps me busy and slightly panicky, which is a state I apparently like.

There were last minute additions to the slide show and CDs coming in left and right. Funerals are always like this at the church – favorite songs to play, postlude music, videos of memories – always showing up in the sound booth ten minutes before the service. Being occupied kept my emotions at bay until I was supposed to sing my solo. This was helpful. I got through the song okay. I also led congregational music of Grandma's favorite songs.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus
Just to take him at his word
Just to rest upon his promise
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord”

It seems like a funeral director would be really proficient at pinning on boutineers, but oh well. The thing had a pin that was sticking out a millimeter away from my jugular. Eventually it drew blood, which I guess was okay because I had on a red shirt. It hurt.

It hurt to watch my grandfather, in his unerring dignity, caress his wife's face one last time. It hurt to watch my mother and my aunt, and to try and imagine their loss. But mostly it just hurt to have a part of me missing, and to know it would never come back. It didn't feel like grief, or saying goodbye to a person. It felt like moving, packing up and leaving the house you grew up in, leaving behind a neighborhood full of friends. When you move you know you're heading for a new place, where you'll make new memories. But you just ache and ache for the memories you leave behind, and the rooms into which you can never again walk. That's what it felt like, as we drove to the graveside, with blood on my shirt.

We sang there under a tarp. Grandma's other favorite hymn.

What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer

The director hurriedly removed each or our boutineers, six carnations from six grandsons. We were maybe standing a foot away from each other, in utter silence, and yet he felt the need to mechanically repeat “please hold the flower and I will instruct you when to set it on the coffin” six identical times. A little reminder of the dehumanizing machinery of the “death industry.” The six of us walked past the casket, six of her grandkids all grown up to be men, and placed our flowers on top as a last goodbye. There was something profound and beautiful in that silent moment. Something dignified and holy, a reminder of the all we held in our hearts and all we would leave behind there buried in the grass.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Chips off the Old Blocks

Familiar Scenario:

-Linsey tries to convince James to do [thing]

-James (the 8-year-old) resists

-Linsey pushes back

-James improvises, comes up with yet another way to avoid compliance

-Linsey tries various parenting methods she's read about in books

-James displays stunning array of varied manipulative techniques, exhausting Linsey's will

-Linsey gives up in exhaustion and does [thing] herself

-Eli smiles

You didn't expect the last one did you? But just substitute my name for Linsey's, and imagine I'm asking Linsey to do something, and you'll have the other most familiar scenario in our house. My wife is dazzlingly tenacious. I rarely proceed past step #3 above because, why bother? She will win. Oh yes, she will win. So when I get to see her in my spot, fighting that losing battle, some sort of evil happiness wells up inside.

Now just to be fair, here's another familiar scenerio:

-Astonishingly loud and high-pitched loony singing emanates from the car's back seat

-Linsey reaches tolerance level, begs Ashley (the 11-year-old) to stop

-Ashley says okay

-Blessed silence

-Ashley begins again to make noises that no sane person could imitate, laughs maniacally

-Repeat cycle several times

-Linsey sighs in defeat

-Eli smiles

You see, while James inherited Linsey's tenacity (read: stubbornness), Ashley inherited my bipolar personality. You did know I'm bipolar, right? Maybe not...I mostly show the depressive side on my blog. When I'm manic, I'm too busy annoying people and bouncing off the ceiling to sit down and post. Anyway, I like that both of these situations end with me smiling. It pleases me that our house contains two little opposite-sex clones of me and Linsey. There is much joy in being a parent.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Staying Afloat

Kind of felt like throwing in the towel for the last few days. First off, let's get it out of the way - I used last week. Wife and kids were out of town for the day, and I had a "bright idea." Same old stuff - porn and DXM. An hour into the fog, I shut it down. Reemembered this isn't me anymore, I'm sick of feeling like a loser, and for the first time in years, I have dreams. Things that I care about and hope for. I should have blogged about the good stuff before the bad stuff happened, but oh well.

I'm encouraged that I made it more than four months - that's the longest in a while - but feel ashamed and stupid enough that my mind goes to dark places. I've been in dialogue with my psychiatrist and therapist for the past few months about how persistent my thoughts of suicide are. Having to face a relapse fires these up into a frenzy. I won't do it though, because I have kids. It's just discouraging to have it nagging at my brain all the time.

The other option that presents itself is to go out. For good. To just stop trying, get high all the time, live in the porn-bubble, and hide it well enough to fool someone into taking me in. Of course that wouldn't work, duh - but that doesn't stop my addict from bringing it up over and over. Bastard.

So when I land back on earth and realize that I need to keep trying, keep growing, asking for help, listening to others' wisdom, working a program, just basically doing what I'm supposed to do, I've felt kind of blah. It's interesting - usually after a relapse, I feel inspired and freed, ready to get back on the wagon and make something of my life.

This time is different, I think because I called and asked for help instead of getting caught. It's like my addict is sulking in the corner, resenting me because he could have slipped in a few more highs before the crash. I cheated him of that. Even worse, I gave him a taste of paradise instead of asking for help before I used. Now he remembers what it's like - still has the sound of ecstasy echoing in his ears.

I remember an addiction specialist telling me that for many chemical addicts a sexual addiction is hiding as the primary addiction. I'm understanding more and more that I'm that person. I don't start a relapse by craving the chemical high. I start it by slowly moving from perusing fashion sites to stockpiling porn images, and when that's not enough I augment the rush with chemicals.

I love the biblical story of the manna. The Israelites received just enough to sate their appetites, no more, no less. If they tried to save for later, it spoiled. There was no guarantee for tomorrow's food besides faith.
So like I said earlier, I have found myself ready to let this blog go. Ready to either abandon it or delete it. Recovery in real life is a mix of rewards and challenges, and I wasn't sure the ratio here was worth it - more challenges than rewards.

But some manna fell for me recently, in the form of a couple of comments. Patricia Singleton, from Spiritual Journey of a Lightworker, wrote, "Things can get better when and if you both want them too. [My husband's] patience and our combined love for each other has gotten us through the worst of times." How comforting to hear the wisdom of someone who has walked the difficult path of healing from the wounds of incest, and who continues to grow in her marriage. Sometimes I just need to know it's possible - that my efforts to stay sober and her efforts to heal are worth the pain.

And Invisigal wrote, "Your posts have been a great help not only to me but to several SA men that I know. One of those men came to the realization of his addiction after reading your blog when I sent him the link." And that pretty much says it all right there. That makes it all worth it.